Blending Styles: Modern and Traditional, Part I

Throughout my design work, I’ve always been strongly attracted to rooms that blend both modern and traditional sensibilities. I find these two styles particularly complimentary, and I often play with combinating them in my clients’ homes.

There are several ways to blend these styles, but one of my favorites is to mix modern and traditional furniture in one space. Too many pieces from different eras can look chaotic, so I always strive to keep the look balanced by letting one style dominate. For example, I’ll plant modern side tables between traditional sofas and chairs in a living room, or mix traditional chairs with a modern dining table and sideboards.

Usually, I look for pieces that are just a few degrees apart—they may be similar in color, texture, or types of materials used. Below are a few rooms in which I’ve used this approach.

This modern cerused wood dining table, ebony stained chairs and black iron pendant lamp provide a nice balance to the traditional Christopher Peacock built-in hutch. I like the juxtaposition of the dark wood against the light walls and cabinetry.

A few modern statement pieces can go a long way in enlivening a collection of traditional furnishings. Here, the white faux croc studded tea tables, graphic pillows, coral lacquer parsons bedside tables, and Flokati rug balance the more classic canopy bed, love seat and tufted armchairs.

I love the traditional feel of these lustrous Ralph Lauren overstuffed chairs, but their expansive silhouettes risked weighing the room down. I had the seat cushions reupholstered in complementary bold striped fabric to lighten the look. Lucite bar stools and complimentary graphic striped pillows and area rug bring additional modern touches to the room.

Clean-lined, modern fabric gives a fresh, tailored look to this antique carved arm chair; the piece helps tie the modern love seat into the overal traditional architectural setting.

In a later post, I’ll expand on how I like using this approach in an entire room, beyond just the furniture.



  • 6 years ago Lane Brooks

    HI Sue – I love this post and your photography. Great examples of your topic. btw, next time you’re in the D&D building you have to stop by and see the new Christopher Peacock showroom.

    • 6 years ago Susan Bednar Long

      Thanks Lane! Will do!


Add a comment


  • Mark your calendars! I am so honored to be joining
  • Gloomy rainy days call for light and bright inspirations! Interior
  • SO exciting!! My incredibly talented boss Susan Bednar Long of
  • We are beyond thrilled that our Provence France project Le

Follow Us


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by design and the subtle impact of our surroundings. Some of my earliest influences still resonate – I think of the dark woods and textured lodens of my father’s shooting club, the smell of fresh paint on a new canvas, and the bold symmetry of the Philip Johnson Glass house just down the street. For me, it was a natural path to become an Interior Designer. I love what I do. I’ve created this Blog to share my thoughts, finds and design inspirations. I hope you enjoy it!